By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Brazilian President Michel Temer is facing yet another crisis with one of his cabinet members, with accusations by an outgoing minister of being pressured by a colleague to authorize the construction of a luxury apartment building in a historical preservation area. The accused minister is now under investigation by the Presidency’s Ethics Committee.
Temer’s headache began on Friday, November 18th, when Culture Minister, Marcelo Calero, resigned citing personal reasons. In an interview over the weekend for daily Folha de S. Paulo, however, Calero stated his departure was due to pressures coming from one of the President’s main advisors, Government Secretary, Geddel Vieira Lima.
According to Calero, Lima wanted him to intervene and obtain authorization from the Institute of National Historic and Artistic Heritage (Iphan) to approve the construction of a building in Lima’s hometown of Salvador. The residential building, however, is to be built on a historical preservation area and needed special authorization.
Over the weekend, Lima admitted that he spoke to Calero about the authorization impasse, but claimed he was only suggesting a solution and not pressuring his colleague. Lima is said to have purchased a unit in the new condo.
Government allies say that the ruckus being raised by opposition leaders and the start of an ethics investigation is exaggerated. “The opposition is taking advantage of a subject that is very small, in relation to other issues of interest for the country, and making it into a crusade,” government leader in the Chamber of Deputies, Andre Moura, was quoted as saying to Agencia Brasil.
On Monday, November 21st, despite the investigations by the Presidency’s Ethics Committee, Temer’s spokesperson said the President had no plans of firing Lima.